Return to Transcripts main page

Cuomo Prime Time

Warren: I Thought A Woman Could Win, Sanders Disagreed; Sanders: "Ludicrous" To Think I Said A Woman Can't Win; U.S. To Expel 21 Saudi Military Trainees. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired January 13, 2020 - 21:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, ANDERSON COOPER 360: We saw it 10 years ago when a 5-year old boy named Monley was brought to a hospital after being trapped under his collapsed house that killed his parents. For more than seven days he was trapped. He survived on rain water.


COOPER: What's he saying?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You want to drink some juice? You want to drink some juice?


COOPER: Monley is 15 now. And after thinking for a while, he wanted to become a doctor. He recently changed his mind. Now wants to become an engineer. He also obviously likes soccer.

Monley is strong and so is his country. Haiti survives. The quakes, the mud slides, the cholera, the mismanagement, the inequality, the unfairness, Haiti endures.

There was a phrase we often heard Haitians say to one another, in the days after the quake, when they were picking each other up, when they were living together under tarps, "Swa bra (ph)," they would say, "Be brave."

Brave is what they were 10 years ago tonight, and it's what they are, still, tonight. We, who were lucky enough to be there, who were privileged enough to be there, and reporting on it, we remember, and we will never forget it.

In just a moment, don't miss our edition of "Full Circle," our digital news show, where I'll talk with Actor and Activist, Sean Penn, about his efforts over the past decade in Haiti, and what stands out for him.

He established a relief organization, CORE, on the ground, and has been trying to help Haiti ever since. He's still working there and as well as other places. That's in a few minutes at, or watch it there anytime, on demand.

The news continues. Want to hand it over to Chris for CUOMO PRIME TIME. Chris?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST, CUOMO PRIME TIME: And that was a perfect example, like with Katrina, like you've done with shootings, like you and the whole team at CNN did during the wars.

That's when we bring people together. And that's when they need to be interconnected. I remember being there with you, seeing your coverage. It's when we're at our best. It's when people need us most.

Anderson, thank you for helping people remember what happened there. Appreciate it. All right, I am Chris Cuomo. Welcome to PRIME TIME.

We have new developments on this wild blow-up between Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. We knew they were occupying the same lane. We knew they would have to stop being buddies.

But like this? He's accusing her people of lying. She's now sticking by the inflammatory allegations that he once told her "A woman can't win the Presidency."

The timing, no coincidence either. Tomorrow is the big CNN Debate. We have Democratic insiders digging in on what does this mean about the state of their Party, and the play, in this election.

And Trump Co. can believe whatever it wants. But they've shown us once again why we can't believe this President with his "Four embassies" fail, a challenge ahead for a President in an endless war with the truth.

What do you say? Let's get after it.




CUOMO: All right, here's the latest, Elizabeth Warren now commenting on allegations from four sources about what Bernie Sanders supposedly told her in a private meeting in 2018. Here's the quote.

"Bernie and I met for more than two hours in December 2018. Among the topics that came up was what would happen if Democrats nominated a female candidate. I thought a woman could win. He disagreed.

I have no interest in discussing this private meeting any further, because Bernie and I have far more in common than our differences."

Note to self. If you don't want to talk about it, then you should have never put out the statement. If Bernie Sanders doesn't want to talk about it, he should have never denied it. Now, you've got competing allegations. Somebody's not telling the truth.

All right, here's Bernie Sanders' side of it. "It is ludicrous to believe that at the same meeting where Elizabeth Warren told me she was going to run for President, I would tell her that a woman couldn't win. Staff who weren't in the room are lying about what happened."

But now, you have Elizabeth Sanders - Elizabeth Sanders! That would be funny! You have Elizabeth Warren saying it's what happened. So, this is the state of play.

This has been simmering. Again, like I said at the top, they're in the same lane. They couldn't be buddies forever. But is this the way that they want to draw, you know, comparisons to each other?

Once again, the field is going to get smaller, and it did today, Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey out of the race. What does that mean? Let's bring in our PRIME TIME Primary politicos, Ana Kasparian, and, Howard Dean.

Good to have you both.



CUOMO: Good to have you both.

Howard, answer the question for me. Look, we knew they were in the same lane. They have to stop being friends. But this kind of fight, the day before a debate, who wins?

DEAN: No - nobody wins a fight like this. But this is the kind of stuff that happens all the time. I know everybody wrings their hands, and "Oh my lord," and all this. This is just standard.

We got 21 days to go before the primary, the first Caucus in the country, and there's six people in the race. So, people are going to get bumped around, and this is part of that deal.

CUOMO: Ana, in a Party that is so into identity politics, putting out something that's better, diversity, you know, there's such big arguments within the Party right now. This is not a garden-variety shot. "You said a woman can't win," that's a heavy blow.


KASPARIAN: This entire situation is so incredibly disappointing, and also incredibly stupid, because in shutting down the conversation, and saying that she refuses to talk about it any further, there are questions that needs to be asked.

What was the context of the discussion? Was he talking about it in the context of where the country is right now? And also, I would love to see anyone in the media hold Joe Biden accountable for literally saying the exact same thing publicly. No criticism, no backlash, none.

And we also need to mention that Bernie Sanders encouraged Elizabeth Warren to run, back in 2016. And there are multiple videos of Bernie Sanders, dating back to the 1980s, where he publicly spoke about how he believes a woman can win.

And so, all of this contextual information is incredibly important to the conversation. And unfortunately, it's being left out to paint a particular candidate as some sort of sexist--


KASPARIAN: --when the facts just don't bear that out.

CUOMO: Well we don't know what the facts are because Elizabeth Warren says--

KASPARIAN: We do though.

CUOMO: But he said it. But--

KASPARIAN: We do. We have evidence of--

CUOMO: No. But she said--

KASPARIAN: How do we know he said it?

CUOMO: No, no, no, I don't - I don't know--

KASPARIAN: And in what context?

CUOMO: I don't know anything. I'm saying Elizabeth Warren says he said it. So, now, we've got something here, right?

If you and I have a - a conversation, and I say, "No, Ana said it," and Ana said, "I would never say anything like that," "Well she said it to me," now we have a problem, Ana.

You're saying it's out of character. It's out of keeping. This isn't who he is.


CUOMO: Fine.

But, Howard, to your point, but now, this is who he is.

DEAN: Right.

CUOMO: And this is who Elizabeth Warren is, defining him as the night before a debate.

DEAN: Well they're defining each other. And I don't think it helps to call each other liars or whatever. Nobody has used that word yet.

But clearly, there's one version of this is - is - is less accurate than another. Obviously, I have no idea which is the accurate version. This is not a good argument to be in.

My actual prediction is they clean it up before tomorrow night. The - the news media will do it. But they'll-- CUOMO: How?

DEAN: Because they'll back off. They'll say nice things about each other.

This - look, I got in trouble this way in Iowa 16 years ago, getting into fights with Dick Gephardt and John Kerry. And when, in a multiple candidate field, when two people are fighting, they both go down, no matter who thinks who's right, and somebody else is going to benefit from that.

So, my guess is both of these are pros. They've been out there for a long time. They like each other, I think, personally. My guess is they make this go away before the debate starts tomorrow night--

CUOMO: Be smart. It'll be--

DEAN: --despite the best efforts.

CUOMO: It'll be tough.

DEAN: Right. Right.

CUOMO: Because you're going to get a 15 million questions between now and then.

DEAN: Right, that's right.

CUOMO: Ana, to the - to the bigger picture here.

You have at the top of the ticket, you have Bernie Sanders, you have Senator Warren, you have Vice - former Vice President Biden, you have Buttigieg. And really, you have Klobuchar, is hanging around.

They all represent very different things. Is this proof of a Party that does not know one or both of two things? One, who do we really want? Two, who can really beat this President?

KASPARIAN: Well I think it's important to look at how the polls have changed, depending on how the candidates have positioned themselves on the policies.

So, if you can note, Elizabeth Warren was doing fabulously well in the polling when she was, you know, positioning herself as a strong progressive, as a fighter for Medicare-for-All, as someone who wanted to--

CUOMO: She made a run. She made a run.


CUOMO: And she took some of Bernie's support during that time.


CUOMO: But now, there's been attrition. KASPARIAN: And then--

CUOMO: She's lost them back.

KASPARIAN: Well there's--

CUOMO: And Bernie got some.


CUOMO: And Buttigieg got some.

KASPARIAN: So, let me just finish my point.

CUOMO: Go ahead.

KASPARIAN: I think the reason why she noticed a dip in the polls, and if you just go back to the timing of all of this, it was after she put out her transition plan for Medicare-for-All.

CUOMO: Right.

KASPARIAN: That transition plan made it abundantly clear that she was not actually going to push for Medicare-for-All. She was really going to push for a public option. Then you see this dip in the poll, right?

Now, my problem with Elizabeth Warren is that rather than acknowledging the flaw in her tactic there, and changing course, she has decided to bring up a conversation that she had with Bernie Sanders, in December of 2018, when he notices a significant rise in the polls, like the American people aren't stupid.

They notice what's going on. They notice that she's bringing this up at a time when her campaign is really struggling.

CUOMO: Now, now, listen.

KASPARIAN: I think it's a bad move on her point - on her part.

CUOMO: I don't want to give them--

KASPARIAN: I think she should focus on policy.

CUOMO: I hear you. I don't want - well I disagree with you about that because if you see what the President did today, not the policy doesn't matter, but you guys are too granular on it. You've got too many purity tests.

And you've got a President who tweeted today "Ooh, fight, fight, fight! Look what they're doing." You have a President that you're running against--


CUOMO: --who said, "I'll give you my healthcare plan after the election," and you guys are arguing on a granular level, I don't know. Now, I know you have sympathies for Bernie, and that's OK. But my point remains this.


CUOMO: At the top of the ticket, Howard, you have a man who is a self- described socialist.


Don't yell at me, Ana. I'm saying that's what he calls - that's what he calls himself, all right?

And you're in a capitalist country that loves the idea of free enterprise, does not like the idea of being called socialist.

He keeps moving in and out of a lead with, you know, Elizabeth Warren, who was trying to take that lane, and as Ana rightly says, kind of went back and forth, and Joe Biden who says they're both crazy to want to propose these kinds of things.

How are all these people swapping the lead within margins of error? What does that say about where your Party is?

DEAN: Well the highest-ranking person is at 20 percent. I think a fifth of the - of our Party would like to see substantial change in what's going on in America. In fact, I think it's a lot higher than a fifth.

So, looks - this is a big tent Party. All these points if you are going to be re - are going to be represented. The thing that I really care deeply about is whoever we nominate, whether it's Buttigieg, or Klobuchar, or - or Bernie or - or Biden, or Elizabeth Warren, that we all get behind them.

CUOMO: 21 days.

DEAN: Because any one of these - any one of these candidates is a hell of a lot better than the psychopath that we've got in the Presidency right now.

CUOMO: Well, look, it's easy to, you know, to call names. It's part of politics. He is going to be difficult to the - to beat. Ana, you know it. Howard, you know it.

DEAN: Yes, that's right.

CUOMO: The polls show it in the states you have to win. The Democrats are going to have to be every--


CUOMO: --bit on their game, and together, and I haven't seen those two things in this last cycle. We'll see about this time.

Ana, thank you for making the arguments, appreciate it. Howard Dean, as always, applause.

KASPARIAN: Thank you.

DEAN: Thank you

CUOMO: Thank you.

All right, so Bernie Sanders, where are they on this? We were supposed to have Danny DeVito on tonight. There was some kind of confusion, we'll try to find our way through, with the timing of this new statement from Elizabeth Warren.

Now, we have a Senior Adviser to the campaign here for Senator Sanders. What is going on? What does this mean? What is this state of play between Warren and Sanders? We appreciate the campaign for stepping in. Thank you.









CUOMO: All right, look, both campaigns tried to play it off like it was nothing. Now, it's something. Senator Elizabeth Warren, it's now her word against Senator Bernie Sanders.

Because Bernie Sanders has said, "Look, I don't know who's saying what. But they weren't in this meeting. And I would never say a woman couldn't win for President. Elizabeth was telling me she was going to run. Why would I say that?"

Now Elizabeth Warren says "You said it."

Let's get some insight from Jeff Weaver, Senior Adviser to the Sanders' campaign.




CUOMO: Thank you very much for joining me on short notice. I know you're standing outside. I'll try to warm you up with some questions.

JEFF WEAVER, BERNIE SANDERS CAMPAIGN SENIOR ADVISER: All right, Chris, always happy to be here, thanks for having me. CUOMO: Danny DeVito was supposed to be on tonight. Word came out that Senator Warren said, "Yes, Bernie said it. But I'd like to move on." Can't move on now, you're calling him a liar, and then DeVito's gone.

How upset is the campaign that this story is getting away from him?

WEAVER: Oh, look, I don't - look, this is a story that was obviously put out by unnamed folks.

You know, he was invited - Bernie was invited to Senator Warren's house. She told him she was running for President. Apparently, you know, I - I mean I wasn't at the meeting of the - only the two of them were at the meeting.

But look, Chris, you know, Bernie Sanders has been a friend of Elizabeth Warren's for a long time. And truth of the fact is you look at his book from 2015. He deferred for her in 2015 to - for her to run.

For anybody to say that a woman can't win, it doesn't make sense. Hillary Clinton won 3 million more votes than Donald Trump did in the last election. So, there's some wires crossed here. But clearly, Bernie Sanders did not say that a woman could not win.

There's some great video footage that's floating around online from '87 and '88 with Bernie talking to young students about how women should run for Office and that we should have a woman President.

So, again, so wires got crossed here. But, you know, I got to tell you that clearly it's not what he said.

And the truth of the matter is, look, you and I are talking here. And neither one of us know what is - knows what it's like to be a woman running in the era of Trump, very difficult. Trump will obviously weaponize gender, race, and everything else that he possibly can.

But the truth of the matter is that any of those Democrats on that stage are better than Trump, and any of them can beat them. We can argue about who--

CUOMO: Right.

WEAVER: --who is more electable one versus the other.

CUOMO: I get that. I get that.

WEAVER: But any of them could beat him, I'm sure.

CUOMO: I don't know that I agree with it. I think you guys have more than your hands full, beating this President, but we'll save that for another day once you guys figure out who you want in your Party.

WEAVER: For sure.

CUOMO: But let's - let's flip your analysis for a second. You're right. You guys are running against somebody where your high ground's supposed to be "He's a liar. We don't lie the way he does."

We may have our wires crossed. I don't know. I wasn't in the room. You weren't in the room. Elizabeth Warren was.

WEAVER: Correct.

CUOMO: And she's saying he--

WEAVER: For sure.

CUOMO: --said it. So, you're in a box now where either you're saying she's lying, or you got to own it, and give a context argument. Which is it?

WEAVER: Well, look Chris, I - I think there were some wires crossed. I mean clearly there was a discussion. He went there.

CUOMO: What does that mean, "Wires crossed?"

WEAVER: They - they had - they had lasagna and so.

So, what you're saying is that she said "Hey Bernie, glad to see you." "Hey Elizabeth, how are you?" "Hey, I'm running for President, Bernie." "Oh! A woman can't win." Is that how the conversation went? I don't think so. Look, I think they talked about the 2020--

CUOMO: Well you don't know. You weren't there.

WEAVER: --race. She--


CUOMO: She says he said - she said "I want to run." He disagreed with the idea that a woman could win. Why would she lie about it? What does that say about her? You got to make a case.

WEAVER: No. What I'm saying is I think their wires were crossed.

I think it was a discussion about Trump, misogyny, sexism in politics, and - and - and the difficulty of running in the era of Trump for women, the special challenges that women face, in the era of Trump.

But, you know, those conversations can sometimes get misconstrued, Chris.

CUOMO: I get you. Maybe that's what it is.

But they've got to clear it up, and I'll tell you why. Here's why you have to clear it up. I know if you take a step sideways, and say, "What do you care about this for? We have much bigger issues," yes and no.

The biggest issue that you face, I face, we all face right now, in this circus of what of - has become of our political dialog is the truth. The truth has to matter on every level--

WEAVER: Oh, for sure.

CUOMO: --if you want to lead us. That's why this story matters. I don't care if Bernie Sanders thinks a woman can run, win, not run, not win. As long as he makes the case, that's fine. We're still allowed to our opinions in this democracy.

And obviously, he knows women can be formidable. One beat him by 4 million votes, and she beat this standing President by--

WEAVER: Oh for - oh, for sure.

CUOMO: --2.8 million votes. But the truth matters, Jeff.

WEAVER: Absolutely.

CUOMO: That's why I'm asking you. And that's why I don't like that Danny DeVito got pulled.

WEAVER: No. No, look, the truth does matter, Chris. There's no doubt about that. You know, Bernie Sanders, as you know, has a well-earned reputation for being authentic about talking about what's on his mind, and not sugarcoating things.


I think voters understand that. That's why they like Bernie Sanders. They're, as you know, because you've been in this business for a while, a lot of voters you talk to are like "I don't agree with Bernie on everything. But you know what? The guy says it the way he sees it."

CUOMO: He's the real deal.

WEAVER: "He's honest. He doesn't sugarcoat it. He's not calculating."

And I think folks have to weigh that. The truth of the matter is, is they had a meeting, a one-on-one meeting. And, as I said, I think it's fairly likely, based on what I know that the wires got crossed.

It is unfortunate that a year after the meeting, frankly, that this was sort of leaked out, dumped out by folks who weren't at the meeting, you know, you got to ask some questions about that, given that it's three weeks before the Iowa Caucus.

Bernie Sanders, as you know, because you follow these things very closely, is on top of the polls in Iowa. He's on top of most of the polls in New Hampshire, tied in Nevada, and top of the polls in California.

And so, you know, you do have to wonder about the timing of this, not on the part of Senator Warren, but some of the people around her.

CUOMO: Well - well but, look, but, you know, she's weighing in on it.

And look, and not all the polls, right? You guys are all knotted up, up at the top, and I think it's a real statement about the state of confusion within that Party about what they think beats this sitting President, and what they really want.

So, let's go to tomorrow night. You're Bernie Sanders--

WEAVER: Well - well I will say this. Let me just say this one point on that - on that point, Chris. Let me just say this. Only when it's Bernie Sanders ahead by three, does CNN run a banner that says "Unclear who's leading."

CUOMO: No, no, no, no, no, don't do that to me.

WEAVER: If it's Joe Biden who's leading by three, that's not how it worked - works.

CUOMO: Jeff?

WEAVER: But anyway - but that's--

CUOMO: Jeff, hold on.

WEAVER: No, no, but that's true, Chris.

CUOMO: No. No. It--

WEAVER: Come on, it's--

CUOMO: It's not true.

WEAVER: That's true. You know that's true.

CUOMO: And just to be clear, just to be clear, there - he's with - you're within the margin of error right now, which is fine. That's my point about the whole top of the ticket. I've said it to you. I've said it many times.

But let's just be clear here. Let's put our cards on the table. You know me well, brother.

WEAVER: For sure.

CUOMO: I was on NEW DAY talking to Bernie Sanders, before he was even in the race, saying, "Hey, you're so big on these ideas, they're such big ideas, why don't you run, if you want your voice?" And he said, "Nobody wants to hear from Bernie Sanders about these things."

So, I have been someone who is a fan of Bernie Sanders' voice--

WEAVER: Yes. Yes. You - you don't make the graphics, Chris.

CUOMO: --for a long time.

WEAVER: Agreed. Agreed.

CUOMO: Tomorrow night, he's--

WEAVER: But you don't make the graphics at CNN. Somebody else does.

CUOMO: No, no, but listen.

WEAVER: Go ahead.

CUOMO: If it happens on my show--

WEAVER: Not - I'm not putting that on you.

CUOMO: --I own it. And you're not seeing it on my show.

Now, tomorrow night, Bernie Sanders is there.

WEAVER: Fair enough. Fair enough.

CUOMO: Elizabeth Warren's there. This is going to be asked about. He's going to say "I didn't say it." She's going to say "You may not remember, but you said it." Now what?

WEAVER: Well, look, that - that's between two Senators. They'll be on the stage, and they'll talk about this. I'm sure it'll get asked about, given how much coverage it's gotten today. So, I'm sure they will talk about it tomorrow, and I'll let them talk about it between--

CUOMO: But what's he going to say?

WEAVER: --between two friends, on the stage, in front of millions of people.

I don't want to preview it. Chris, I don't step on my guy. We'll let him and Senator Warren talk about it, two friends, two colleagues, talking about it on the stage tomorrow night.

CUOMO: Are they still friends after this?

WEAVER: Of course, they're still friends. They've been friends for a long, long time. Let's be clear.

CUOMO: 21 days before Iowa, you throw a story like this.

WEAVER: You know Elizabeth Warren can't give him up. Bernie Sanders--

CUOMO: That he's anti-woman candidate.

WEAVER: Yes. Yes.

CUOMO: And you're still friends?

WEAVER: Absolutely, still friends, absolutely, yes, yes. They have great respect for one another. They're fighting for a lot of the same goals. Again, there's some wires crossed, apparently, about this story, and we have great respect.

And, you know, the truth matters. If you polled our campaign, I would say most of the people on the campaign are second-choice Warren people. So, look, you know, we're not going to get into this tit-for- tat. Again, it's unfortunate that three weeks before the Caucus, with the

polls the way they are, that some folks over there decided to play a little bit of dirty politics, I get it. We're big boys and girls. We know how this works.

But, look, when this is all over, they'll be friends. The Party will be united. We're going to go out there and beat Trump, whoever the nominee is. That's just the way it's going to be.

CUOMO: It's not dirty politics to them. And it's not going to be dirty politics to the women listening tomorrow night. They're going to want to know what the - what Senator Sanders has to say about it.

And let me just say something that should be clear to everybody. The Senator is welcome on this show to discuss policy. I'll give him more time than anybody else. And I'll go after policy more than anybody else. He is always welcome here. We miss him, Jeff.

And I appreciate you being with us. Thank you.

WEAVER: Anytime, Chris. Of course, anytime.

CUOMO: I'll see you in Iowa tomorrow.

WEAVER: Thank you.

CUOMO: Thank you for jumping out in the cold at short notice.

WEAVER: You got it.

CUOMO: I appreciate it, all right?

WEAVER: Yes, no. But I'm from Vermont. This is not cold.

CUOMO: That is true.

WEAVER: We're good.

CUOMO: I'm from Queens, and I'm always freezing. You never know. Thank you, Jeff Weaver.

All right, now, I had to bring up a little bit. It's weird, when half an hour before your show, they pull a guest like Danny DeVito because all this is going on. Obviously, it mattered.

Obviously, they're worried about message. That's OK. They have to be because tomorrow is a really big night, in fact, arguably, the last big night before the vote's in 21 days.

The CNN Democratic Presidential Debate from Iowa begins tomorrow night at 9 P.M. Eastern, all right? This story is going to matter, why? Truth matters, especially now.

And, on that note, a message to the administration, what you believe is not necessarily fact. When you have facts to back things up, you present them, and then it makes sense that you believe it. If four embassies were about to come under attack, or are about to come under attack, why wouldn't you warn the people who protect those embassies? That's one hole in a big fat Swiss cheese of a story.

Facts First, next.









CUOMO: Quick comment, I don't believe we are in a post-fact reality. I don't even think there's any such thing. Shows like this post the facts, so you can make informed choices, in reality.

To wit, here is the latest cover story about why the United States took out an Iranian General, and this comes from the President's two biggest defenders.


MIKE POMPEO, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATE: President Trump and those of us in his National Security team are reestablishing deterrence, real deterrence, against the Islamic Republic.

WILLIAM BARR, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL: It reestablished deterrence. It responded to attacks that had been already committed.


CUOMO: So, it was about deterrence, meaning, "I'm going to stop you, so you don't do something I don't want you to." They're not even saying the word "Imminent" anymore.

And if it is about deterrence, and likely was, if you want to believe them, this time, fine. There's no problem with being about deterrence, except it requires Congressional authorization. That's what matters.


Remember the concept, not "Good guy? Bad guy? Should you take him out? Should you not?" You don't want a President, any President, let alone Trump, playing politics with our military, without Congressional buy- in, like the Founders demanded. Now, we have new reporting. They never even told the people in charge of protecting our embassies, in Iraq, of any specific threat. And yet, the President told you this.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I can reveal that I believe it would have been four embassies.


CUOMO: He "Believes." He is not about the facts. And that is our reality.

More proof of that, now the Secretary of State, and the Attorney General, remember them, not just defenders of Trump. They're the Heads of two of the most important parts of vital institutions, and they're doing Duck and Cover for the Donald.

Why yet another shift, because we can't find anyone who has seen the Intel that would justify the most provocative move of this Presidency. Who hasn't backed it up? The Secretary of Defense.


MARK ESPER, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I didn't see one with regard to four embassies.


CUOMO: So, he didn't see it? Not members of his own Party.


SEN. MIKE LEE (R-UT): I don't recall being told, look, there were four embassies.


CUOMO: Now, let's be clear. Embassies in the Middle East, often targets, it's an ugly world, especially over there, so - so much so, there are protocols in place for when one's about to be attacked.

The State Department would issue an explicit warning to those in danger, and that makes sense, so they could take follow-up steps, to limit their movements, enhance security.

An Emergency Action Committee would be set up at the post to coordinate with D.C. and security staff, and there'd be at least a plan to evacuate the staff of the potential target.

Now, we can't get anyone to say that any of that happened. The State Department did send out a security warning. But don't accept that as a substitute here. It wasn't sent to four specific embassies. It wasn't even sent to just embassies in Iraq. That warning went to embassies around the globe. It is not about imminency, OK? The strike on Soleimani wasn't a sure thing. U.S. Forces missed another Iranian Commander in Yemen the same night. Was that imminent too? They missed that second target, and yet, never even mentioned it to you. Why not, if this was all so imminent?

Just some context on this canard, you know who used to demand we get our people out of danger when there's a specific and imminent threat like there was in Benghazi? Answer, the man who is now running Trump's State Department.



POMPEO: If you choose to put political expediency, and politics, ahead of the men and women on the ground, for that, you'll have to answer to yourself. I find it morally reprehensible.


CUOMO: Morally reprehensible!

It was just last week when we all felt exactly how close we are to war. Missiles in the air, we all waited, the world waited. And you know what? There was a blessing in this. Thank God nobody was hurt.

But also, for just those moments, we all remembered that we're in it together. And together, you all deserve an answer to a simple question. Why did you do what you did?

Now, the President is hyping up the Iran terror threat. There actually was an act of terror on our soil, confirmed by the Attorney General today. It's leading to the expulsion of nearly two dozen people.

Why is the President so quiet about it? Here's the answer. Guess where those people are from? I'll tell you next.









CUOMO: President, loud on Iran, and rightly so, but silent on Saudi Arabia, why, even as his own administration is expelling 21 Saudis who were training on U.S. Bases. And once you look in, to what the reporting is, on what these 21 people were up to, what they were looking at online, the move comes as the attack on the Pensacola Naval Air Station.

Remember, three U.S. soldier - sailors shot and killed, they are now officially ruling it terrorism, all right? And that was done by one of these Saudi students.

Couple of great minds to help us with this one, Peter Bergen's book is "Trump and His Generals: The Cost of Chaos," and Robert "Bob" Baer, knows the threat from his time at the CIA.

Gentlemen, thank you for joining me tonight.

Now, Peter, one of the first surprises is how nobody is talking about this. You know, what is it like, fatigue, because we already heard about this shooting in Pensacola?

The idea that the Saudis have almost two dozen guys here, and I'm sure you've seen what I've seen, which is the background on how many of them were looking at Jihadist information online, and that this guy, the shooter was, and no talk from the government. Why?

PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST, AUTHOR " TRUMP AND HIS GENERALS: THE COST OF CHAOS" & " UNITED STATES OF JIHAD": We'll do the thought experiment, Chris, where this was - I'll tell you, if Syrian refugee, I mean President Trump would be taking a very different kind of tack.

And - and, of course, go back to the travel ban. Of course, Saudi Arabia was not subject to the travel ban. A lot of other countries in the Middle East, mostly Muslim majority - majority countries were.

So, it just doesn't fit with Trump's view of the world, which is the Saudis are great, you know, we're selling all these arms to them, and we have a very close relationship with them, and he kind of gives them a pass.

And I thought it was fascinating, Chris, also that it took until now, many weeks later, for it to be termed an act of terrorism by the government, officially, when it - clearly it was.

I mean, we had Mark Esper, the Defense Secretary, last month, saying he couldn't rule it a - an act of terrorism, when it was blindingly obvious, within 24 hours or so, based on what this guy was looking on social media that this clearly was an act of terrorism.

CUOMO: Right. All right, proof of performance of what - of what Peter's putting out there listen to the President talking about Saudi Arabia recently.


TRUMP: We have a very good relationship with Saudi Arabia. I said, "Listen, you're a very rich country. You want more troops? I'm going to send them to you. But you've got to pay us." They're paying us. They've already deposited $1 billion in the bank.



CUOMO: Yes. They got a lot of money, Bob. Nobody's disputing that.

The - the question is would they really sell - send bad guys here to have? I mean, would they expect this kind of - I mean they - they play dumb about this. "We didn't know. We didn't know."

Are they really not going to know if one of the guys they send over here has Jihadist sympathies that is evidenced in his footprint in social media?

ROBERT BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY ANALYST, FORMER CIA OPERATIVE: Clearly, they are the ones that have to check these guys out, vet them, because we can't do it alone. And without their help, they're going to show up here, and they're going to commit murder.

The Saudis have never gotten a grip on the Jihadist threat. That whole society, it's like Swiss cheese with crazy talk feary (ph) Jihadists who are ready to murder.

And, you know, there's in the - in the military, in the Intelligence services, in the ministries, they're everywhere. They have not been able to get rid of these people, and they won't be able to, for generations.

But, as you said, Chris, and as Peter said, it's money. Look, the President's in business with the Saudis. He's been for decades.

You know, 666 Fifth Avenue, who bailed that out? Was that the Saudis? We don't know. And they spread money all over Washington, and the people there will not talk about the Saudis.

On the other hand, the Iranians don't spend money here, and they pay for it.

CUOMO: Right. But the Iranians - I mean I don't have to tell you two. You're the experts I lean on for this. But, you know, singling out Iran as a bad actor in the region is a safe bet. You know, the Quds Force--

BAER: Right.

CUOMO: --as you guys have taught me, over the years, it's a terrorist organization. That's why the U.S. designates them as such.

Peter, what I think people will be confused about here is the same thing that's vexing me, which is, are the Saudis our friends?

And if the answer is "Yes," does that mean, to Bob's point, that they're just not good enough to root out 21 guys that they sent over here, who may have, you know, feelings of America being the Great Satan? BERGEN: There's always been a question, Chris, about, you know, is Saudi Arabia the arsonist or the firefighter, when it comes to Militant Islam.

And - and, to his credit, Mohammad Bin Salman, the Crown Prince who really runs the country, has made a big effort to put the religious police - police back in the barracks. He's allowed women to drive. He is liberalizing the society.

The same time, he's also an authoritarian, who's, you know, invaded Yemen, and, you know, presided over the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, and - and - and the - the blockade of Qatar and other things. So, you know, as you probably--

CUOMO: But you don't think he'd send 21 terrorists here?

BERGEN: No. I mean you - he certainly wouldn't do it intentionally. He himself is actually trying to secularize and put this genie back in the bottle.

But it does go to what Bob was saying that I mean this society has, you know - you know, quite a number of Saudis volunteered to fight for ISIS. So, you do have this kind of Jihadist kind of mentality that it continues to exist there.

And it's - I mean it's shocking to me that it was, you know, people who are vetted, who are military recruits, were able to come here, in that - in that number.

CUOMO: Right.

BERGEN: That is - that is pretty shocking.

CUOMO: You know, and - and Bob, you know, to your point, let's leave Iran out of it because I think that, you know, it's an easy case to make that they're a bad actor in the region.

I can't think of any other country, other than Saudi Arabia, where the - maybe Israel, but they would never do anything like this. They would vet their - they would never allow - I don't believe Israel would ever allow these kinds of people into our country.

But what other country can you think of, where the President would have facts like this, 21 of your guys have to go because they have the wrong kinds of thoughts about the United States of America? What other country would get away with that?

BAER: Well, it's - it's never happened. The close is Pakistan. But, in general, we just give them a pass. Look, we gave them a pass on 9/11. We still don't have the answers--

CUOMO: Good point.

BAER: --how 15 Saudis showed up in those airplanes. There was no indictments, no name - no one was named. There was no clarity on this. They have not cooperated-- CUOMO: Right.

BAER: --with this investigation. So, there we have it.

CUOMO: Let me get your brain on something else while I have you.

Peter, the idea of "Hey, it was imminent. If we didn't take out Soleimani, right when we did, bad things were going to happen," my experience with U.S. government officials is that if you have a good threat, you offer it up.

You don't have to reveal CIs. You don't have to reveal sensitive information, to give me the flavor of what you just put down as a threat. They couldn't do that here.

Now they're saying it's about deterrence. We've had another first, where the President says, "I believe it was four embassies." The Secretary of Defense says "I never saw anything that pointed to any specific threat to four embassies."

What's going on here in your - in your point of view?

BERGEN: Well, I mean they're tying themselves in a pretzel-- in a pretzel.

But I think what they should have done is said, Look, President Obama authorized the drone killing of an American citizen called Anwar al- Awlaki because he was leading al-Qaeda in Yemen.

President Obama didn't think much - you know, made that decision pretty quickly. And he made it on the basis that this guy was continuously plotting against the United States, and that was the standard of imminence that was used in that case.


Now, the Trump administration would be smart to be talking about that, and not getting hung up on like what particular target it was, because certainly this guy was continually plotting.

But may - maybe they just don't want to credit the Obama administration for this kind of thinking. But this is the kind of - that would have been a smarter approach.

CUOMO: Except al-Qaeda is a terrorist organization, not a sovereign.

You know, those guys aren't Generals. They're not part of a standing army and the kind of military and reach that a country like Iran has. And al-Qaeda was a party to that 2002 AUMF that would have given him more cover.

But Peter Bergen, I appreciate your argument, as always, and your insight. Bob Baer, thank you so much. Appreciate you both.

BERGEN: Thank you. CUOMO: All right, I got a challenge for the President of the United States. And he's still trying to sell us the idea that Iran and this General were an imminent threat, now that his Secretary of State, his Attorney General, and his Secretary of Defense are not.

I have a bet for him and an argument. You'll want to hear this, next.









CUOMO: The Trump triple step is in full effect once again. What is it? Lie, deny, defy.

Take Iran. "It was imminent because Iran is bad, and this guy was a terrorist." OK. But, why imminent? Crickets! No proof that it was. Period.

Then, the President denies that fact, and says it was about the Embassy that they hit in the past, and four more, something even his inner circle can't back up.


ESPER: Well, the President didn't say there was a tangible - he didn't cite a specific piece of evidence. What he said is he probably he believed, could have been--


ESPER: I didn't see one with regard to four embassies.


CUOMO: Embarrassing!

Then comes where we are now, defy. "Who cares about the rules in Congress and the Constitution?" Look at this. "Fake News Media and their Democrat Partners, who cares if it was imminent or not?" Oh, it matters, Mr. President.

When Hillary Clinton talked about whether it was a protest or a planned hit that took down Benghazi, and why that mattered after the fact, Trump folks went nuts.

But now, you say, the President says, there were American lives, they were hanging in the balance, and this choice had to be done. No respect for the legal standard for use of force. And that matters. But we hear nothing from his defenders.

This toxic triple Lindy that he does matters to him most of all, I argue to you, why? His demagoguery demands that he sew division at all times. He needs to do this so much that I have a bet.

I bet that this President can't go 21 days, that's how long we have until the Iowa Caucuses, without lying, denying the obvious, about a mistake by him, or defying a norm for his own game. You want to bet?

Iran will be almost impossible for him to talk about and win the way he has to. So, he can't do it there.

But healthcare, it's going to come back into focus with Bloomberg, right? Bloomberg's working it hard.

And Trump better do a lot better than size jokes with Mike Bloomberg because you want to talk real size. He can buy and sell Trump with ease, always trumped him in New York City, in terms of respect and popularity among their peers.

And as Bloomberg bangs on pre-existing conditions, can Trump win if he doesn't keep lying to you about pre-existing conditions?

Gallup says 81 percent of you say what should be obvious, healthcare, extremely, or very important, to your vote. Of course, it is. It's like the biggest vig in most of our lives other than our mortgages.

So today, the President sent out this whopper. "I was the person who saved pre-existing conditions in your healthcare. I will always protect your pre-existing conditions, the Dems will not."

Poppycock! He saved it the way you would save me from drowning by holding my head under water. Simple logic! How did he save it when he was the one who wanted to get rid of it? Here is the truth.


TRUMP: Obamacare is a disgrace to our nation.


CUOMO: Now, I have no problem with him holding that position. Don't like the ACA, fine. It certainly has its flaws. But be straight.

Right at this moment, the Trump administration is fighting in federal court to strike down Obamacare, including protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Google it. Look at the suit.

And then comes the defiance. "Don't fight this in the open. The GOP filed a brief last week asking the court," listen to this, "not to take up the case until after the election." Oh, how convenient! The same time that Trump tells you he'll reveal his new healthcare plan, after you vote.

And to my argument/wager, why does he attack pre-existing conditions when so many of you in his own Party like it? 58 percent of you in the Party want protection for pre-existing conditions. Of course, you do. It's too important.

He needs to do it this way. Lie, deny, defy. Orwellian double-speak allows him to keep people pissed off and frustrated. He can't win without doing it. He's not liked enough. He doesn't sell himself well enough to people who are open-minded.

Example three, "Bernie Sanders' volunteers trashing Elizabeth "Pocahontas" Warren," says this President. "Everybody knows her campaign is dead and want her potential voters. Elizabeth is very angry. Do I see a feud brewing?"

This is the equivalent of a schoolyard punk shouting "Fight! Fight! Fight!" right, that kid that nobody likes, and for exactly this reason, all animus all the time.

He needs you to be angry at someone, and for you to think that he is the only way to beat them. He needs people at each other's throats. He needs you at your worst, your most suspicious, so you're easy to convince, and easy to satisfy.


And that's why this is a bet this President would never take. And it's a wager that even if I win, and I would, we all lose. And that's the problem. My job is to point it out. That's the argument.

More proof of the President sewing division, illustrated perfectly by one of his new, and I argue, disgraceful re-tweets. Some - some won't show it to you. I will. BOLO, next.








CUOMO: BOLO, Be On the Look-Out, lie, deny, defy.

Latest proof, our President posting this doctored image of Senate Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer, and House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, dressed in traditional Muslim clothing. So, in this context, that must mean they're terrorists, because remember, he told you "Islam hates us." Asked about this move on state TV, White House Press Secretary, Stephanie Grisham, said this.


STEPHANIE GRISHAM, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think the President is making clear that the Democrats are - have been parroting Iranian talking points, and almost taking the side of terrorists, and those who were out to kill the Americans.


CUOMO: Really? You can't prove that there's imminency, you can't show the proof, but it's on them?

Be On the Look-Out. This President will do whatever he can to play on any kind of prejudice, any weakness, because he can't win without it. This wasn't just anti-Muslim. It was anti-American, again.

CNN TONIGHT, D. Lemon, now.